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Sermon Overview & Prayer: "A Cool Breeze of Mercy"

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1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – PRAYER POINTS
A Cool Breeze of Mercy – CJ Mahaney
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

“Paul did not simply believe in prayer or talk about prayer. He prayed, regularly and continuously, and urged the same on his churches.” (Gordon Fee)

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, prompt me to include you and depend on you in prayer, in every circumstance, relationship, desire, and detail of my life. And may my every interaction with your Word, prompt a response in prayer – whether asking to receive, giving thanks for what you’ve given, confessing sin, or expressing a desire to more deeply know and be like you – draw me to deeper and more frequent communion with you in prayer.

This is a compelling example of a God-centered prayer.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to always pray in a way that declares your glory and perfection. Help me to pray in faith, that I might please you – not faith in an answer, but faith in you, who will always answer according to your perfect will. And help me to pray with humility, so that no matter the circumstance, you will impart grace.

And Paul identifies their source of power as “the God of peace” reminding them of the salvation He has graciously provided by making peace through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. Those who trust in the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, are reconciled to God, and experience peace with God as well as the peace of God internally.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I am forever grateful that while I was dead in my sin, lost and without hope, destined for eternal judgment, your lavish love and mercy intervened. Because, on the cross, you bore the wrath that I undeniably deserved, I am no longer an enemy, separated from God, but am reconciled...a child, a friend of God.

May my life be lived as a response and vivid reflection of the gift of your righteousness and mercy!

This peace is not only the cessation of conflict but a restored relationship with God, full fellowship and well-being.  “In light of divine wrath and human sin, bare forgiveness would be an infinite treasure. But ‘peace’ denotes full fellowship and well-being.” (Robert Yarborough)

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, through the beauty of creation, through the gift of fellowship, or through any means you choose, give me ears to hear your invitation to fellowship with you, to communion with you, and hence, to your peace.

Their ability to grow in godliness, endure persecution, be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, rests ultimately, not upon them but upon God himself. God keeps or preserves His people by progressively sanctifying them.

PRAYER: Father, I so often feel that I am not growing, not changing, not pleasing you as I should. I am tempted to wonder if this or that will ever change. In those moments, graciously confront me with my unbelief...with eaxalting my imperfections above your promises...with my calling into question your faithfulness...convict me of seeing me more clearly than I see you. Grant me the gift of repentance so that, with all my heart, I will declare, He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it!”

“One of the most frequent one-word descriptions of the Christian is that he is ‘called.’” (Sinclair Ferguson)

The decisive factor in their conversion was the gracious, effectual, call of God through the gospel, not their repentance and faith which followed. They were acted upon by God before they acted in response to God.

PRAYER:  Oh Lord, I thank you, that you...being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which [you] loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...For by grace [we} have been saved through faith. And this is not [our] own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Lord, may this keep me forever grateful, and forever resistant to pride!

Though they have a part to play in the sanctifying process and the pursuit and practice of godliness-ultimately what matters is the faithfulness of God to fulfill what He has promised.

“Therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus the author and finisher of your faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.” (Charles Spurgeon)

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, so engulf us that we can’t help but feel the cool breeze of mercy, and his strong grip on us from these verses, resulting in sweet assurance for our souls.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
In his prayer for the Thessalonian church, Paul guides his readers—and us—to feel the cool breeze of God’s mercy and grace in his faithfulness to save them and keep them. The only power that would enable them to live in the way God commands is the faithfulness of God himself. The God of Peace has made peace for us, not only rescuing us from his wrath, but restoring our friendship with him. Our assurance is grounded in who God is. He is faithful and completely trustworthy to keep his people in the totality of their lives. Not only can he keep us, but he will keep us.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What does Thessalonians 5:23-24 teach us about the heart of God?
  2. “Paul’s prayer directs the readers to the source of the power that would alone enable them to live in this way.” Read verse 23 and 24, then read verses 12-22. How do the encouragements in verses 23 and 24 affect your understanding of the exhortations in the previous verses?
  3. Paul prays for the Thessalonian church to remind them that all their efforts would be inadequate apart from the Lord acting in their lives. How does God’s initiative in saving you motivate your daily obedience?
  4. CJ reminded us that Paul wanted the Thessalonians to have confidence in the faithfulness of God as they grow in godliness, endure trials, and wait for Jesus to return. How does God’s faithfulness strengthen your growth, endurance, and/or waiting?
  5. Spurgeon said, “it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.” Currently in your life, what characteristics of Jesus and his work on the cross give you rest?